Friday, August 15, 2008

A Special Kind of Pathology

Supporting the "heroic resistance". . .

From the United States, word comes that the Russian invasion of Georgia is George Bush's fault. From the UK, we learn that it's about NATO's aggression, and Israel is vaguely responsible, too. Here in Canada, it turns out that the humanitarians slaughtered earlier this week in Afghanistan were really working for some sort of CIA outfit, leading to the logical conclusion: "I don't care if the entire insurgency is led by and equal to the Taliban. The Afghan people fighting against Canada and the U.S. and NATO enjoy my unqualified support, no matter what ideas they have floating around in their heads, and no matter how they treat each other. Any 'condition' put on that is support for Bush and Harper."


Blogger Graeme said...

This people are siding with the enemy--does this mean that we can kill them?

11:50 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

That last quote reminded me of this quote;

"To put the matter as starkly as possible: from the standpoint of Marxism and international socialism an illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically)."

11:58 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

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12:15 PM  
Blogger Ian King said...

Domestically speaking, they are the enemy.

Dirk: The human garbage on Rabble are spouting the same incoherent, reactionary rubbish as you do. The only difference from the Rabble staff is that they manage to throw a pseudo-intellectual veneer over their positions. But they implicitly accept all the CIA conspiracy theories, and read from those same journals and websites. Hits a little too close to home, huh?

12:57 PM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Will said...

With some reservations about some of it … shit about yank interests and ‘west vs east’ and that sort of thing … this is a canny piece by Davis-Hanson — quotation follows — article here.

"The new reality is that a nuclear, cash-rich, and energy-blessed Russia doesn’t really worry too much whether its long-term future is bleak, given problems with Muslim minorities, poor life-expectancy rates, and a declining population. Instead, in the here and now, it has a window of opportunity to reclaim prestige and weaken its adversaries. So why hesitate?

Indeed, tired of European lectures, the Russians are now telling the world that soft power is, well, soft. Moscow doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, the European Union, the World Court at the Hague, or any finger-pointing moralist from Geneva or London. Did anyone in Paris miss any sleep over the rubble of Grozny?

More likely, Putin & Co. figure that any popular rhetoric about justice will be trumped by European governments’ concern for energy. With just a few tanks and bombs, in one fell swoop, Russia has cowered its former republics, made them think twice about joining the West, and stopped NATO and maybe E.U. expansion in their tracks. After all, who wants to die for Tbilisi?

Russia does not need a global force-projection capacity; it has sufficient power to muscle its neighbors and thereby humiliate not merely its enemies, but their entire moral pretensions as well.

Apologists in the West

The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state.

The Russians rightly expect Westerners to turn on themselves, rather than Moscow — and they won’t be disappointed. Imagine the morally equivalent fodder for liberal lament: We were unilateral in Iraq, so we can’t say Russia can’t do the same to Georgia. (As if removing a genocidal dictator is the same as attacking a democracy). We accepted Kosovo’s independence, so why not Ossetia’s? (As if the recent history of Serbia is analogous to Georgia’s.) We are still captive to neo-con fantasies about democracy, and so encouraged Georgia’s efforts that provoked the otherwise reasonable Russians (As if the problem in Ossetia is our principled support for democracy rather than appeasement of Russian dictatorship).

From what the Russians learned of the Western reaction to Iraq, they expect their best apologists will be American politicians, pundits, professors, and essayists — and once more they will not be disappointed. We are a culture, after all, that after damning Iraqi democracy as too violent, broke, and disorganized, is now damning Iraqi democracy as too conniving, rich, and self-interested — the only common denominator being whatever we do, and whomever we help, cannot be good.


Military intervention is out of the question. Economic sanctions, given Russia’s oil and Europe’s need for it, are a pipe dream. Diplomatic ostracism and moral stricture won’t even save face.

Instead, Europe — both western and eastern — along with the United States and the concerned former Soviet Republics need to sit down, conference, and plot exactly how these new democracies are to maintain their independence and autonomy in the next decade. Hopefully, they will reach the Franklinesque conclusion that “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

He is probably just saying like.

For consideration…

Andre Glucksmann:,175930.html

“This is not war, only a teaching mission.“

“The Kremlin pretends to be a teacher whose right is to punish a stubborn pupil". According to Mr. Glucksmann, what is now happening in Georgia reminds him of the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Moscow is trying to overthrow the current Georgian government and to replace it with a cabinet of puppets. A few years ago Putin was still likely to respect Western public opinion. It’s over now, says Glucksmann.

And proper background info to the whole conflagration and shit like that --

4:46 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

NB: I deleted comments here because the unwell person who left them is banned from this place, and knows he is banned, but can't control himself. So, I have to, by deleting his comments.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

Will: In this case, the use of the term "the West" is proper, I'm thinking:

"The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state."

Canny, just saying like.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Dirk Buchholz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

With resepct to Russia/Georgia, I'd say the Juan Cole article has it about right.

5:01 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Putin would have gone into Georgia, George Bush or no George Bush, you only have to look at the past history or Russia/Soviet Union to realize that, but Putin knows like all aggressors these days, that if you blame George Bush, or NATO or something in the West,, you can now get away with it, especially with useful idiots such as Juan Cole around.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Russia continues it's tradition of leaving interesting things behind after military 'withdrawls': No -- not only scorched earth -- now it's short range ballistic missile launchers* (SS-21 missile launchers to be exact) except on purpose.

* will be dismissed out of hand by idiots and ideologues.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Dragon Lady said...

Courtesy of Jeff Weintraub's website, in fisking another Russian cheerleader, Mark Kleiman makes a few points that Juan Cole probably didn't offer up in his unsurprising paen of support to the Russians:

I don't have the time or the patience for a full fisking of the Katherine vanden Heuvel piece linked to above [], but I would like to list some of the facts it omits, and ask any reader, including Ms. vanden Heuvel, to either challenge the facts themselves or explain why their omission does not constitute deception.

1. A substantial minority of the population of South Ossetia is ethnically Georgian.

2. For years, Russian "peacekeepers" have been assisting South Ossetian "irregulars" (the distinction is largely notional) in attacking ethnic Georgians.

3. The pace of those attacks was picked up, on Russian orders, after the declaration of Kosovan independence, as a way of baiting Saakashvili into taking military action to which Russia could "respond."

4. The forces Russia sent into South Ossetia could not have been assembled between the time of the attack on Tskhinvali and the time of the Russian intervention. The operation had been planned well in advance.

5. When the USSR broke up, there was also a large population — perhaps constituting a majority — of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia. The Russian puppet regime there systematically drove them out in 1990, and there are 200,000 refugees from Abkhazia in Georgia proper.

6. That purge of Georgians from Abkhazia was the only substantial act of ethnic cleansing in the post-Soviet history of Georgia. The post-Soviet Georgian government never engaged in anything resembling the genocide Serbia attempted in Bosnia or the massive ethnic cleansing it carried out in Kosovo.

It's worth noting in passing that those who suspected that The Nation's consistent opposition to any measures taken against the Soviet Union might be due to ideological sympathy owe The Nation an apology. The magazine is just as unreasoning in opposing any measures to contain fascist Russia as it was to any measures to contain the Communist Soviet Union.

Consistency is such a rare thing in journalism that it ought to be treasured. Whether this particular instance reflects what Emerson called "a foolish consistency" is a problem left as an exercise for the reader."

6:11 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I'm not excusing the overaggressveness of the Russians, but don't tell me that Georgia didn't attack first,and kill 2000 civilians, because they clearly did.

12:11 AM  

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